Tips for Creating the Ultimate Thanksgiving Tablescape

Create a Pinterest-worthy Thanksgiving tablescape with traditional place settings, adorable napkin rings, and plenty of space for food.

thanksgiving table with candle centerpiece

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is no easy task. Between the cleaning, cooking, and entertaining, there's little time to worry about setting the table. We want to make it easy for you this year, so we've broken down how to dress up your Thanksgiving table, including ideas for place settings, centerpieces, and more. This traditional Thanksgiving tablescape is a good mix of simple elements you may already have and a few DIY projects you can get done in the weeks leading up to the big day. Take a look below to see exactly how to set a traditional Thanksgiving table the entire family will love.

Editor's Tip: One of the best ways to relieve holiday stress is to set your table ahead of time. Get all of this in order a few days before Thanksgiving so you have time to focus on what really matters ... family (and food)!

Set the Scene

thanksgiving table

While turkey might be the main act of your family dinner, place settings are the most important element of your tablescape design. With so many options, it's easy to get lost in the dishware aisle. However, the best tip for a traditional table setting is to go simple. The gray rim on these plates give a little interest without being flashy. Basic silverware flanks the plates and a white soup bowl sits to the left. For drinks, give each diner two glasses, one for water and one for wine. A cloth napkin and custom napkin ring make the meal feel like a special occasion.

Center of Attention

thanksgiving table with candles

This Thanksgiving, consider a centerpiece composed of easy-to-assemble elements. Being able to change the size and shape of your centerpiece to accommodate heaping plates of food is a huge win. Here, we chose three pillar candles to be the star of the tablescape. Their glass jars are wrapped in burlap and stuffed with fall foliage. To add more dimension, we added miniature pumpkins and leaves on both sides of the candles. If needed, the centerpiece can stay for the predinner picture but be set aside when the serving dishes come out. A burlap runner ties the traditional Thanksgiving table together.

Editor's Tip: If you have a crowded table with lots of dishes being passed back and forth, consider buying LED candles instead of real flames. This safer option looks just as great and can be used again next year.

Custom Accents

thanksgiving acorn napkin

One of the easiest ways to personalize your place settings is by adding a napkin ring. Make your own using a simple wooden ring and felt decorations. This felt acorn design looks simply adorable on top of neutral dishware, and the orange pops against the golden napkin. Designate a unique color for each person, or stick with coordinated napkin rings at each setting. Carefully push each napkin through the ring and set it in the middle of your plate for a polished look.

Who's Who?

thanksgiving mini pumpkin with hat

Place cards are a must for a large family celebration. Making sure everyone has a seat and will be happy with their placement will relieve so much stress for Thanksgiving day. Plus, it's a great opportunity to let your DIY skills shine! These adorable pilgrim hats are actually miniature flower pots with a strip of gold paint around the rim. Use a paint pen to write in the names of each family member, and set the makeshift hat on a miniature pumpkin. This inexpensive place card idea is quick and easy to do, plus keeps with the traditional Thanksgiving table setting.

Updated by
Wade Scherrer

Wade Scherrer is an interior designer, photo stylist, and freelance editorial producer for furniture brands and local and national magazines, including Better Homes & Gardens and Traditional Home. Alongside his career in print publications, Wade has held the role of Senior Producer at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing.

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